In a surprise move, Callaway Digital Arts, an interactive developer for the iPad with offices in New York City and San Francisco, is shutting down its New York offices and development studio and relocating all of its operations in San Francisco. The move will affect the 25 employees that staff its New York studio. It is unclear how the move will affect CDA’s acquisition of selected properties from Fourth Story Media, a children’s digital publisher founded by former Scholastic trade publishing president Lisa Holton, which CDA purchased earlier this year.
In a phone interview, Callaway Digital Arts CEO Rex Ishibashi, named to the position in late 2011, said that the decision to relocate operations to the West Coast was based on the need “to increase our focus on technological expertise, gaming and social media as well as continue our emphasis on storytelling. It makes more sense to have everyone under one roof.” Ishibashi said the move will take place after “a few key projects are completed,” but said that mid-June was the target date for shuttering the New York offices.
The relocation appears to put about 25 people in the New York office out of work, unless they are prepared to move West. Ishibashi said the move will add the 25 New York positions to the 15 people already working in San Francisco, although he said, “we hope to move some of the people to San Francisco.”
Over the last few years Callaway Digital Arts has worked to transform itself from a highly regarded traditional book publisher to a digital publishing venture focused on app development and digital delivery of interactive content. In 2010 the company received $6 million in funding from the Apple-focused venture capital firm Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers iFund, to fund the building of multimedia/interactive development studios for CDA in New York and San Francisco. At the same time the company announced deals to create a series of iOS apps for Martha Stewart and for Sesame Street.
In February Lisa Holton was named v-p of content development at Callaway Digital Arts, and CDA also announced that it had acquired “some properties” from Fourth Story Media that would accompany her to CDA. At the time, Holton declined to name the properties. Holton, who founded Fourth Story Media and was instrumental in the development of the transmedia venture The Amanda Project for HarperCollins, said at the time that she would continue to work with the Amanda Project as well as CDA.
Asked if Holton will join the company in San Francisco, Ishibashi said, “likely not.” He declined to say whether the deal to acquire the Fourth Story Media properties would remain intact. “We’re evaluating the impact of the move on the deal,” he said.